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occasion, and if her prayers could have ensured her sweet nursling's happiness, Geraldine would have been most blessed. At length all was completed, and the clocks of the Palazzo struck the appointed hour.
Who has not felt the thrill and start of almost overwhelming emotion as the first toll of a long prayed for hour has arisen on the silence. The heart seems to stand still, and what we had most coveted, now that it is at hand, strikes us with a feeling of awe akin to sadness.
Geraldine quitted the Palazzo for ever, and guided by her nurse arrived at the place where Antonio impatiently awaited her arrival. When she joined him, he spoke no word, he grasped her hand in both of his, and a smile of unutterable beauty quivered for an instant around his mouth ; that smile full of bliss repaid Geraldine for all she had suffered. They went in silence(for when was deep happiness loquacious ?)—to God's holy altar, and there exchanged vows as fervent and sincere as ever were breathed by mortals. They were married by both the Pro
testant and Catholic rituals, and then Antonio, for the first time since the day on which he had first beheld Geraldine, enjoyed the security of his bliss.
In that moment he forgot that he was a pilgrim in a vale of tears; he forgot that beauty could fade, or dark sorrow blight hearts with its withering breath ; he remembered not that joy is but for a day, and that grief cometh in the morning; and death with his sable wings and clammy fingers appeared, but as a far, far remote vision.
But Geraldine trembled in the midst of her happiness. A voice whispered in her ear that the sacred duties she had outraged, the ties of nature through which she had broken, would haunt her for ever, and stand like dark shadows between her and the sun of her life.
They remained in Florence, as Geraldine could not bear the idea of leaving it whilst there was a chance of reconciliation with her parents. She had left letters for them and her kind Italian friends, explaining the cause of her flight. The letter to her parents was couched in the humblest and most moving terms, imploring their blessing and forgiveness, and assuring them solemnly, that although she had found sufficient courage in her heart to disobey them, she felt that to be utterly cast off by them would be a punishment weightier than she could bear.
It may easily be conceived how great was the consternation of the Prince and Princess M— when they opened the letter of Geraldine ; but words can convey but a faint idea of the mingled rage and astonishment which overwhelmed the Arbuthnots, when on their return, the morning after Geraldine's marriage, they heard the news. The father and son swore to renounce the degraded creature for ever, and Colonel Arbuthnot commanded his wife, as she loved or dreaded him, to abstain from all communication with her unworthy daughter, and to return any letters she might receive from her, unopened. Mrs. Arbuthnot was scarcely less indignant than her husband ; yet the natural
shade of sorrow into his clear
which beamed with unclouded radiance on her. In the midst of her remorse and solicitude, oh! how inexpressibly dear was he to her beart! Cut off, perhaps for ever, from kindred, country, and the friends of her youth, Antonio now stood before her as the point wherein all her hopes, her joys, her affections must centre; and blessed in the certainty of his unchanging devotion, with his protecting and supporting form at her side, could she regret the sacrifices she had made ?
Alas! no. She felt, notwithstanding her remorse, that were it even possible to recal the last few weeks, she could not act differently from what she had done. The morning was brilliant, and the youthful pair sat at the window of their cheerful apartment, talking over plans for the future. A serene and entire happiness shone in Antonio's countenance as, with his arm encircling Geraldine's slender waist, he pictured forth a smiling and flowery life; his eloquent and rich language, together with the melodious tones of his voice, stole, like soothing music,
into Geraldine's fearful, timid heart, and banished all thoughts, save love for him who spoke, from her gentle bosom. She raised her blue eyes to her husband's face and cast on him a look of earthly tenderness and heavenly purity beautifully blended; her head then sank on his shoulder, and delicious peace spread a serene expression over her features. At this moment her purse entered the room, and presenting Geraldine with a letter, left them again alone. At sight of her father's well-known, formal hand-writing, poor Geraldine's heart beat tumultuously, and the crimson blood rushed to her face, then retreating, left her of an ashy paleness. By a desperate effort she broke the seal, and her own luckless epistle dropped from the envelope to the ground. She gazed for some moments in silence on the blank paper in her hands, as though unable to comprehend the cruelty of the blow, then, suddenly starting up, she threw herself into her husband's arms and wept long and convulsively.
Antonio, as he pressed his weeping bride to